From bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney comes a riveting new novel about the destructiveness of hatred, the evil of indifference, and the power of accepting love and responsibility: Fifteen-year-old Macey Clare was looking forward to the summer, hoping for fun and romance with her neighbor's grandson, Austin. But when Macey decides to research the burning of a barn in her hometown for a school project, she finds that no one is willing to talk about what really happened that night. She has always loved this quiet, beautiful town where her grandparents live and her mother was raised. Will Macey be able to face the past and understand the present?
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In the beginning of a novel, authors often introduce the reader to the setting and the characters. As you read, notice who you meet and where they are.
In 2-3 sentences, summarize what you have learned about the main character and the setting.
Did you know that you can look up any word in the book or in the questions and answer choices? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Use this feature to look up the word "debris."
What do these lines reveal about the relationships in Macey's family?
Good readers figure out character's personalities and feelings by noticing what they say, think, do and how others respond to them. What have you figured out so far about Macey?
Given the age of the characters and their struggles, this novel may be a
Based on their backgrounds, how do Macey and Austin differ?
Authors use descriptions of the setting and characters to create mood. Here, the author is painting a mysterious mood through imagery.
Why is Macey interviewing people about the stable?
Through this narration, the author is showing the reader what Austin is thinking. What might be the purpose for showing his inner thoughts?
This is what a beanbag chair looks like. This is the image Macey has in her head. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the context, what does this piece of figurative language mean?
What does Macey's observations about the paint reveal about her personality?
The fact that both girls live with their grandmothers will likely bring them closer. As in real life, characters often create relationships with others based on similar experiences.
The author has introduced conflict into the story by putting the characters in danger. Notice other moves the author makes to propel the narrative forward in an exciting way.
Why is Austin "suffocating" Macey?
Do you think the incident with the fire connects to the title of this book? If yes, read to find out if your assertion is correct.
The author most likely includes this dialogue at the point in the story to
Why do you think the other kids want to lie about the fire?
Based on these lines, what is Macey learning from her experience in the fire?
Which word best depicts Austin's emotional state in these lines?
This description shows that Macey is feeling embarrassed at school by all the attention she is getting on account of her burnt hair.
As a story develops, the main characters develop. Watch this video then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on her behavior, what new information have you learned about Macey's personality?
Good readers notice how an author structures a book. Watch this video about pacing then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Why does the author insert this scene with Macey at home with her parents at this point in the story?
In 2-3 sentences, explain whether or not you think Austin's intention for going to Macey's was to walk the dogs. Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
Austin is a pleasant young man. He often responds to new situations and experiences with optimism. Notice his behavior and track his development as you read.
The author includes this flashback to
Authors use different literary devices to make a story interesting. Watch this video about flashbacks then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
The fire "raging in him" is a metaphor for
This author is particularly skilled in incorporating figurative language into this story in order to entertain the reader. Watch this video to learn how to identify and figure out the figurative language. (This annotation contains a video)
Watch the first minute and fifteen seconds of this clip from the movie Forrest Gump then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
In 2-3 sentences, explain how Austin and Macey's relationship compares to the relationship between Forrest and Jenny.
Peruse this New Haven tourism site. Do you agree with Papa's assertion about safety? (This annotation contains a link)
The author includes this dialogue to foreshadow that
This simile is employed to show that
Why do you think the author set this sentence on its own line? What statement is the author making by doing this?
A theme is beginning to emerge in the story. Watch this video to learn how themes develop then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on Macey's conversation with her mother, which topic begins to surface that may later develop into a theme?
Racially charged arsons occurred in the U.S. in the 1950s for many different reasons. Read to find out why this teacher was chased out of his or her home. (This annotation contains an image)
Why do you think Mrs. Johnson is apprehensive when it comes to believing a racially charged arson occurred in her neighborhood?
Read the second paragraph of this article titled "The Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children" then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
In 4-5 sentences, explain how Austin's situation with his parents compares to what you read in the article above. Use evidence from the text and the article to support your ideas.
Watch this video about motif then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
The author continually uses the motif of things burning and the use of the word fire to
Which piece of evidence from the text shows that Macey is maturing and becoming more assertive
Good readers figure out unfamiliar words by noticing word parts. The based word of "personnel" is person, so a "personnel department" must deal with people and employees. Use this strategy as you read.
What does Austin's response to Nana reveal about his personality?
Use the define feature to look up the word "stranded."
Historical context is important to take into consideration when reading novels that investigate the past. Study the images in the first minute of this video to understand racial discrimination in the United States in the 1950s. (This annotation contains a video)
According to the text, why did the white people in the town "hate" the black teacher?
Based on what Grandfather says about Macey's project, why do you think he does not want to have the story "dredged up"?
Authors put character thoughts in italics to signal to the reader that characters are thinking not speaking. Notice this as you read.
Watch this video about how authors build tension then respond to the following question. (This annotation contains a video)
Which line from the text shows that the story is reaching a high point through the author's use of tension?
The author most likely includes this simile to
The author includes this detail to humanize the characters and make them relatable.
The author most likely includes this detail because there maybe a connection between Venita and Mr. Sibley. Read on to find out if this prediction is true.
What does this thought reveal about Austin's character development?
In 2-3 sentences, explain what Macey has discovered so far about the barn fire.
Use the define feature to look up the word "bleak."
Consider why the author has Austin and Grandfather doing this activity. What purpose does this interaction serve?
Given the context, the word "tickled" most likely means
Although this man seems harmless, it is never a good idea to go into a stranger's house. Do you think this event will lead to another conflict for Macey and Austin?
What can we logically infer based on the fact that Alice taught with Mr. Sibley?
What do Austin's realizations show about his development?
This conversation seems to have ended abruptly. Do you think Alice is hiding something?
Based on this interaction, what can we infer about Macey and Austin's relationship?
These lines reveal an important aspect of Austin's progression. Throughout the book he has personally grown and progressed. However, when it comes to love, he is taken aback and does not know what to do.
Why does the author place Macey dancing among the marigolds?
A marigold is a flower in the daisy family which is typically yellow, orange, or copper-brown. (This annotation contains an image)
What new information have we learned about Macey and school on this page?
Macey's feelings toward Austin solidify that this novel is a coming of age story. Young girls often explore their independence and voice and are also concerned with the boy they like.
This sentence confirms that Macey is
What do you think this narration and dialogue reveals about Austin's attitude toward his relationship with his father?
In 2-3 sentences, explain why Macey did not want to "be in 1959." Use paraphrased evidence from earlier in the text to support your assertion.
Do you think the people Macey called truly had no recollection, or do you think they are hiding information?
What does the author mean by "trees were a religion here"? How does this imagery paint the setting in the reader's head? (This annotation contains an image)
This line reveals that Macey has
Based on the structure of thought and events on this page, how is the author presenting the theme?
How does this image of Medusa connect to Austin's image of Macey? What is he illuminating about her personality by using this description of the snakes? (This annotation contains an image)
Authors place the climax of a story in different places. In this novel, the author has saved the most suspenseful part of the story for the end. The main characters are finally discovering the truth about the fire.
In 2-3 sentences, tell what the kids discovered about Austin's grandparents' involvement in the fire mystery.
Which theme has been revealed through Macey's investigation and the surprising secrets in this story?
Although not direct, the author is making a commentary on the racially charged discriminatory acts that occurred in small towns that often went unnoticed in American society.
What does this figurative language reveal about Austin's feelings?
The author places this sentence on its own line for dramatic affect. How did you feel when you read this sentence?
The author uses the image of the crayons as a motif throughout this text. What do the crayons represent?
By mentioning the assignment Mrs. Loomis gave Macey, the author is bringing the story full circle. This is a signal that the end of the narrative approaches.
Through Macey's behavior, what message is the author sending to young people about friendship?
Since we are in the end of the story, the author concludes the narrative with humor. This writing technique shows that "all is well" and the story is coming to a natural end.
In 2-3 sentences, explain what theme the author is presenting about the responsibility of younger generations. Use evidence from the text to support your assertion.
The author is showing multiple culminating themes and ideas now that we are at the end of the story. This narrative structure is not uncommon. Readers often figure out a story's lesson at the end of the book.